Chicken Ragù With Fennel
This is a simplified riff on a popular recipe that the food editor Andy Baraghani developed for Bon Appétit magazine. It’s a velvety ragù that relies on chicken thighs, bacon and onions for flavor. It takes a couple of steps — browning the chicken, letting it cool after it braises and then shredding it — but it is not too challenging for a weeknight. The recipe is versatile. Over egg noodles, it serves six for dinner, but it can also make a nice dinner for two or four. The leftovers freeze well, or can turn into a filling for hand pies, which are terrific tucked into lunchboxes the next day.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- 6ounces bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
- 6bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- 1medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1bulb fennel, cored and finely chopped
- 6sprigs fresh thyme
- ½cup dry white wine
- Pasta (optional)
- ½cup whole milk
- Ground black pepper
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 2tablespoons chopped parsley
Step 1Put the oil in a wide saucepan or deep skillet that will fit six thighs snugly and turn the heat to medium. Add the bacon and cook it until it’s crisp, 5 to 6 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a small bowl.
Step 2Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, skin-side down, to begin to brown. After 3 or 4 minutes, turn it and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat.
Step 3Add the onion and fennel and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and just starting to turn golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for another minute or so.
Step 4Pour in wine and simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5Add the bacon and then the chicken with any accumulated juices, skin-side up, keeping the thighs in a single layer. Pour in enough water to almost cover the chicken.
Step 6Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down so the liquid is bubbling very gently. Partially cover with a lid, setting it so some steam can escape. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
Step 7Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool. Once you can handle it, remove the bones and skin and shred the chicken by hand.
Step 8If you are serving the ragù over pasta, get your water going: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1 cup pasta water before draining.
Step 9Add milk to the pan and turn the burner to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until sauce is nearly reduced by half and slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the shredded chicken back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Step 10Stir in the butter, then the Parmesan. If serving over pasta, add some of the starchy pasta water if the sauce seems too thick.
Step 11Add the parsley, and toss sauce with the pasta, if using. Pass more Parmesan at the table.